Starring David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai, Wai- Man Chan, Lo Wai, Tatsuro Tamba, Lei Lung, Danny Lee, Bolo Yeung, Chin Feng, Zhu Mu, Fan Mei-sheng, and still pretty much anyone working for the Shaw Brothers not named Wu Ma.
Fight Choreography by Liu Chia-Liang
Directed by Chang Cheh and Wu Ma (he’s still there)
That is the theme music whenever Yen Ching (Chiang) shows up in this film. All Men are Brothers is the direct sequel to The Water Margin, itself one of the Four Great Classics of Chinese literature, once again bringing us back to the adventure of the 108 Outlaws of Mount Liang, as we pick up after some time with the giant cast, as Yen Ching is approached by the Emperor, who offers amnesty to the outlaws if they do a job for him, mounting and assault on an impregnable fortress of invaders called Fang La in a campaign that is suicide even at the best of times. So of course the 108 outlaws take the challenge, and mount an epic battle to the end to defeat the invaders and with their amnesty.
Things don’t go as planned as the outlaws find that Fang La lives up to its reputation, but a small group led by Yen Ching enter the fortress in disguise, but things still go wrong, and the assault on the fortress must begin within, as the rest of the 108 outlaw are en route, needing the gates to be opened to mount a proper assault or be slaughtered. Thus, the group that entered into the fortress lead an attack that makes them legendary…
The acting here is great, and it’s fantastic to see the 108 outlaws again, but it’s bittersweet, as this is truly a Heroic Bloodshed movie, and the majority of those that survived The Water Margin don’t make it here, but go out in a whirlwind of heroic actions. David Chiang is the more up-front star here, and while Ti Liung is touted a lot, he really doesn’t show up as much. Fan Mei-Cheng actually shows up quite a bit more as the lunkhead Black Whirlwind, and his character, whom I loved in the first film, I screamed at in this film as he is the one who truly messes things up and starts the road to death that claim the majority of the cast. Chang Cheh once again brings his “A” game, as all of the Shaw Brothers actors, and the story moves along briskly enough. It was also great to see the great Bolo Yeung, although having him defeating in a wrestling match with David Chiang stretches the limits of all believability.
The fights here are good, exactly what one expects from Liu Chia-Liang. This film is more of a war film than anything else, and there is no real standout except for maybe the battle between Chen Kuan Tai and the two generals. Weapon fights rule the day here, mostly consisting of swords and spears, and a ball and chain in once scene. All expertly done, but no real standout sequence.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
A well made sequel to my favorite of all the Shaw Brothers films and brings the story of the 108 Outlaws to a spectacular blood-drenched end.